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Terentius Varro Atacinus, Publius  

Edward Courtney

Terentius Varro Atacinus, Publius, a poet born in the Atax (Aude) valley in Gallia Narbonensis or at *Narbo itself in 82 bce. Nothing is known of his life except that he learned Greek at the age of thirty-five (Jerome, Chronicle ). The first of his poems was no doubt his Bellum Sequanicum , an historical epic on Caesar's campaign of 58 bce. After he made the acquaintance of Greek literature, he translated *Apollonius (1) Rhodius under the title Argonautae , wrote amatory verse addressed to a “Leucadia” (Prop. 2.34.85; Ov. Tr. 2.439), a name chosen, like “Lesbia,” to recall *Sappho (if this was in elegiacs it was his only work not in hexameters), and composed two didactic works, Chorographia (which seems to show knowledge of Alexander of Ephesus) and Ephemeris (the title is an emendation), a poem on weather forecasting in which he used *Aratus (1) (his version influenced Virgil's treatment of the same topic in G.


Ennius, Quintus, epic and dramatic poet, 239–169 BCE  

Gesine Manuwald

Ennius was the most prolific poet in the early period of Latin literature and is particularly known for his epic and his dramas. He composed plays for public festivals down to the year of his death, a major narrative epic, a large amount of non-dramatic verse, and at least one work in prose. While Ennius’ entire output only survives in fragments, his life and writings are better documented than those of most other early Republican writers, which is partly the result and an indication of his esteem among the Romans.

Ennius was born in 239bce (Cic. Brut. 72; Tusc. 1.3; Gell. NA 17.21.43; Hieron. Ab Abr. 1777 [p. 133a Helm]) in the Calabrian town of Rudiae (Cic. Arch. 22; Hor. Carm. 4.8.20 with Schol. ad loc.; Strab. 6.3.5 [p. 281 C.]; Ov. Ars am. 3.409–410; Mela 2.66) and claimed descent from the legendary king Messapus (Serv. ad Verg. Aen.



Philip Hardie

At the summit of the ancient hierarchy of genres, epic narrates in hexameter verse the deeds of gods, heroes, and men The authority of Homer, the name given to the composer of the Iliad and the Odyssey, ensures that the forms and conventions of the Homeric poems are determinative for the whole of the Greco-Roman tradition of epic. From an early date, the production and reading of epic poems was accompanied by intensive scholarly and critical activity. Over the centuries, numerous epics were written on both legendary and historical subjects, as the genre responded to changing aesthetic and ideological conditions. In Rome, Virgil’s Aeneid successfully established for itself an authority comparable to that of the Homeric poems, and all later Latin epics place themselves within a Virgilian tradition. Epic in Greek and Latin continues to flourish in late antiquity, when Christian writers appropriate its forms to propagate their own messages and praise their own heroes.



Fiachra Mac Góráin, Don P. Fowler, and Peta G. Fowler

Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) (70–19 bce) was a Latin poet, already celebrated in his own lifetime, who wrote during the triumviral period and the principate of Augustus. All his poems reflect on contemporary history while engaging with a range of literary traditions from the archaic to the contemporary neoteric. Virgil achieved renown as a poet c. 39–38 bce with the publication of the Eclogues (or Bucolics), which take after Theocritus’s Idylls. He went on to write the Georgics, a didactic poem ostensibly about farming (29 bce), and the Aeneid, a heroic epic in the Homeric manner about the Trojan refugee Aeneas’s flight from Troy and his struggles to found a city that would be the origin of Rome. Several minor poems collected in the Appendix Vergiliana are attributed to Virgil, but were probably not written by him. His work set the standard for Latinity and inspired many later imitators and artistic and critical responses.


Livius Andronicus, Lucius, c. 280/270–200 BCE  

Thomas Biggs, Gesine Manuwald, and H. D. Jocelyn

Lucius Livius Andronicus (c. 280/70–200 bce) was a Latin author of probable Greek origin who is credited with initiating the tradition of scripted dramatic performance at Rome and composing the first epic poem in Latin. Andronicus’s life appears to have spanned a large part of the 3rd century bce; the only firmly transmitted date concerns the performance of a hymn to Juno for which he was commissioned during the Second Punic War (207 bce). He is often linked to the year 240 bce, a widely accepted but controversial date for his first staging of Latin plays during the Ludi Romani (“Roman Games”). His translation of the Odyssey was influential, although its initial audience and level of circulation are debated. His works survive exclusively in fragments. Andronicus’s skeletal ancient biography suggests his status as a formerly enslaved person who was trafficked to Rome from Magna Graecia in the aftermath of war. Latin literature’s first author was thus a forcibly displaced migrant for whom Latin was a second or third language. This account may not be wholly accurate, but it aligns with other near-contemporary authorial biographies and various attested trends in Roman sociopolitical and cultural history during the increasingly mobile Middle Republic.


parody, Latin  

Peta G. Fowler and Don P. Fowler

No Latin *genre gives as central a place to literary parody as does Greek Old Comedy (see comedy (greek), old), and traditionally parody has been seen as playing a more restricted role in Latin, the concept being reserved for instances such as the broader para-tragedy of *Plautus and *Terence,1 and self-standing poems such as the parody of *Catullus (1) 4 (to a ship), in Catalepton 10 (to a magistrate), and the parodies of *Virgil, Ecl. 1 and 3 by Numitorius (Courtney, FLP, Obtrectatores Vergili 1–2). Increased attention given to intertextuality in general, however (see literary theory and classical studies), with perhaps some influence from those modern theories which offer broad definitions of parody,2 has led to the concept being employed more widely. In general, any intertextuality with a “higher” genre in a lower may be read as parody, and hence parody has been seen especially in genres like *satire (e.


Ovid, poet, 43 BCE–17 CE  

Stephen Hinds

Born in 43 bce, Ovid first made his name at Rome as a playful and experimental love poet, in the Amores, the epistolary Heroides, and the didactic Ars Amatoria and Remedia Amoris; by about 2 ce, he was able to claim that “elegy owes as much to me as epic does to Virgil.” Concurrently with the epic Metamorphoses, he was at work (2–8 ce) on the elegiac Fasti, a poetical calendar of the Roman year, with one book devoted to each month; and he would spend his final decade further extending the range of elegy with the pleas and laments of the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, sent to Rome from afar, along with the curse-poetry of the Ibis. When Ovid turned in his forties to epic, he did not attempt direct competition with the already classic Aeneid. The 15-book Metamorphoses recounted dozens of tales from classical and Near Eastern myth and legend, with no central hero, but with characters and settings changing every few pages; every episode was in some way a story of supernatural transformation, and the whole took the ostensibly chronological form of a history of the universe. As the epic neared completion in 8 ce, the poet was suddenly banished by the emperor Augustus to the Black Sea frontier, (a) for the perceived immorality of the almost decade-old Ars Amatoria, and (b) for a still-mysterious error or indiscretion.


Ilias Latina  

Steven J. Green

The Ilias Latina is a short poem composed in Latin hexameter that retells Homer’s Iliad. It is generally attributed to Baebius Italicus and dated to c. 54–65 ce. The analysis of the poem reveals how the Homeric Iliadic material has been reimagined to fit Roman, post-Virgilian and Neronian sensibilities, and to showcase the human emotions underlying the Trojan War.The Ilias Latina is a poem composed in Latin hexameter that retells Homer’s Iliad in 1,070 verses. Most commonly referred to as Ilias Latina [Latin Iliad], a title coined by Emil Baehrens in his 1881 edition, the manuscripts refer to the poem variously as Epitome Iliados Homeri [Epitome of the Iliad of Homer], Liber Homeri [Book of Homer], or Homerus (de bello Troiano) [Homer (concerning the Trojan war)]. It is popularly attributed to Baebius Italicus, following the manuscript Vindobonensis Latinus 3509 [Bebii Italici] and taking note of an apparent acrostic created (with small emendation) from the first letter of the opening and closing eight verses of the poem: .


Bellum Civile  

Christopher Pelling

Bellum Civile (“Civil War”), title of three works.

(1)*Caesar's commentaries on the war begun in 49 bce: Caesar is unlikely to have used the title himself.

(2) Lucan's epic (see annaeus lucanus, marcus): this, or De Bello Civili, is the best-attested ancient title, though the popular alternative Pharsalia (cf. 9. 980–986) is regaining some scholarly fashion.

(3) The poem of 295 hexameters introduced into *Petronius Arbiter's Satyricon (119–124).

Some criticism of Lucan is clearly suggested, especially his suppression of divine machinery; but interpretation is not straightforward, given the satirical characterization of the speaker Encolpius.


Prudentius Clemens, Aurelius, 348–after 405 CE  

Cillian O'Hogan

Aurelius Prudentius Clemens was a Christian Latin poet who wrote in a variety of genres and metres. Born in northern Spain, in 348ce, he had a career in public administration before retiring to write poetry. His major works include the Liber Cathemerinon (poems keyed to the liturgy and religious calendar), Psychomachia (an allegorical epic on the battle between Virtues and Vices for the human soul), and the Liber Peristephanon (lyric poems in praise of the early martyrs of the church). Prudentius was particularly influenced by the works of Virgil and Horace, and aimed in his poetry to combine the form and language of classical Latin poetry with the message of Christianity. The most important Christian Latin poet of late antiquity, Prudentius was extremely influential throughout the Middle Ages.Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348–after 405ce) was the most important and influential Christian Latin poet of late antiquity. Called by Richard Bentley the ‘.


Dracontius, Blossius Aemilius  

Helen Kaufmann

Blossius Aemilius Dracontius was one of the most remarkable Latin poets in Vandal North Africa. He lived in Carthage around 500 ce, and combined poetry with a career in law. His major Christian work De laudibus dei (‘Praises of God’) combines biblical narrative with exegesis, doctrine, and autobiography. He also wrote a ‘Plea’ (Satisfactio) to the Vandal king Gunthamund, who had imprisoned him, as well as four short mythological epics (on Hylas, Helen, Medea, and Orestes respectively), two epithalamia, two prefaces, three rhetorical pieces, two epigrams, and two now lost panegyrics. Dracontius’ work stands out for its originality in combining sources, for its creative use of literary forms and rhetoric, and for its character descriptions.Blossius Aemilius Dracontius lived in Carthage around 500ce. Only one event in his life, his imprisonment under Gunthamund, can be dated approximately: the Vandal king ruled from 484 to 496.1 Dracontius’ tripartite name, as well as inscriptional evidence for a (different) Dracontius and further Blossii in North Africa, suggests a North African Roman origin; the title .